Nicolas J S Davies

A collection of published articles and letters to policymakers regarding the crisis in United States foreign policy by Nicolas J S Davies.

Location: North Miami, Florida, United States

Tuesday, July 15, 2003

Letter to Congress - 20 Lies about Iraq

The Hon. Kendrick Meek
1039 Longworth H.O.B.
Washington DC 20515

Tuesday, July 15, 2003

Dear Kendrick,

It is becoming clear to most Americans that the President’s statement about Iraqi uranium purchases in Africa was widely known to be false when he made it. This statement was in fact part of a persistent and cynical pattern of lies and misleading statements by the President and other members of his administration throughout the continuing Iraq crisis.

In every case, the President or one of his administration makes a very public statement, usually in front of the T.V. cameras, that most Americans simply don’t have the background knowledge to question. Then, as the falsity of the statement becomes more widely known, they modify it, downplay it or move on to a fresh allegation that makes the previous one seem less important. This has been so successful that many Americans are left believing the original claim, even when it has later been taken back or only stated implicitly in the first place. This pattern has been so consistent that it can only be reasonably interpreted as a deliberate and cynical strategy to mislead the American people. While it is this overall strategy that is most disturbing, the following is a list of twenty specific lies, each of which is a matter of concern in its own right: -

1) The Vice President’s speeches in August 2002
Mr. Cheney stated unequivocally that Iraq was reconstituting its nuclear weapons program. We now know that Joseph Wilson had already been to Niger and exposed the fraudulent document on which this was based and that Cheney was aware of this.

2) The link between Iraq and September 11th
It has been widely alleged that Mohammed Atta met with an Iraqi agent in Prague. The Czech intelligence service stated that the man involved could not have been Atta, but the President and his colleagues have never mentioned this.

3) Other links to Al-Quaida
By describing the invasion of Iraq as part of his “War on Terror”, the President has created an implied link that has never had any basis beyond a generalized fear of anti-American Arabs. The only specific allegation regarded a “terrorist camp” which was actually in a part of Iraq that was under Kurdish control.

4) Chemical weapons issued to Iraqi troops could be deployed in 45 minutes
An Iraqi military officer, secretly working for British intelligence, actually said that Iraq’s new command and control system allowed orders to be transmitted to the field in 45 minutes, nothing to do with the existence of chemical weapons.

5) Previous weapons inspections were a failure
“He’s had 12 years to disarm” etc. It is now clearer than ever that the inspections were a great success and provide a valuable model for the future of arms control. This has yet to be acknowledged by the President, as it discredits his belligerent approach to this and other international problems.

6) U.S. claims were supported by U.N. figures
The President and Secretary of State took U.N. figures on items unaccounted for and made a whole series of categorical statements that Iraq still possessed “10,000 liters of anthrax”, “a stockpile of between 100 and 500 tons of chemical-weapons agents” and so on.

7) The aluminum tubes
When the President included this in his State of the Union speech, the IAEA had already made a statement that they were for 81 mm rocket casings and were not suitable for use in centrifuges. See my letter of January 30th 2003.

8) Condoleeza and the Mushroom Cloud
Dr. Rice made the case for preemptive war by raising the specter of a nuclear attack, even though it is now clear that she knew Iraq had no nuclear weapons program.

9) Unmanned Aerial Vehicles
These balsawood model airplanes were supposed to attack New York City with biological weapons. Once the government has succeeded in scaring us enough, we’ll believe anything, especially if they come up with a technical-sounding name.

10) Shelf life of chemical and biological weapons
With the exception of mustard gas, none of the chemical or biological weapons Iraq purchased before 1991 could have remained potent for as long as 12 years. It is inconceivable that our intelligence agencies do not have the scientific and technical expertise to realize this. This one item makes a lie of the administration’s entire case. Again, see my letter of January 30th 2003.

11) Colin Powell’s smallpox statement
The Secretary of State included smallpox in his inventory of imaginary Iraqi weapons to the U.N. Security Council in February. The U.N. immediately stated that Iraq did not have smallpox.

12) Mr. Blair’s Dodgy Dossier
The President quoted this as a reliable source. The British government had in fact plagiarized a student’s thesis from the Monterey Institute, and also stated that an Iraqi intelligence agency that was created in 1992 had moved to a new H.Q. in 1990! The dossier has become a favored target of scorn in the British press.

13) The Liberation of Iraq
Once the war began, the justification for it shifted overnight, suggesting that this was part of the plan. Did the administration know that we would not find any “WMD”s?

14) The continuing chaos in Iraq
The present conditions in Iraq under military occupation are no surprise to most dispassionate observers. Did the administration really deceive themselves about what this would entail, or were they just trying to deceive the American people to ensure our support?

15) Wartime propaganda
A wide-angle shot of the famous statue falling in front of the journalists’ hotel in Baghdad shows nothing but deserted streets. How much else was staged for the media? The daily announcements of the capture of Umm Qasr? The disingenuous responses to reports of civilian casualties?

16) Saving Private Jessica
This one was staged for the media. After her Humvee crashed under fire, she was well cared for by Iraqi doctors who contacted American forces to arrange her return. The army preferred to make a daring rescue with the cameras rolling. Whose idea was this?

17) Marconi weather-balloon trailers
If 20% of Americans believe we really did find WMDs in Iraq, it’s probably because the President keeps referring to these trailers as “biological weapons labs”. They are exactly what the Iraqis said they were, and were sold to Iraq by the British company, Marconi, in 1987.

18) Back yard centrifuge parts
This is the latest “smoking gun”, centrifuge parts that an Iraqi scientist buried in his back yard in 1991. Clearly, Iraq’s reconstituted nuclear program hadn’t quite reached the stage when they needed these particular parts yet.

19) “Iraqi oil belongs to the Iraqi people”
As the cost of our occupation mounts, the administration is paying to repair war damage in Iraq from a fund that contains “oil for food” money and frozen Iraqi assets. They are proposing to spend future oil revenues as well. As the occupying power, we are responsible under international law for repairing damage that was the result of our military action from our own resources, not their oil revenues.

20) And then there’s the uranium from Niger

I hope that you and your colleagues in Congress can find a way to hold President Bush and his administration accountable to both the American and the Iraqi people for this blatant pattern of deception that has resulted in so much death and suffering. The Straussian ideology that many of these people subscribe to advocates the deception of the citizenry by a governing elite who know what is best for the country. They do not believe in democracy or liberalism, only in using them as a framework that they can manipulate to accomplish their goals. They believe that a strong society requires an external threat to keep it united, and that the elite must create the fear of such a threat in the minds of the people. (See Shadia Drury, “Leo Strauss and the American Right”. St.Martin’s: 1997)

I do not believe that the American people are ultimately going to accept the takeover of our country by this radical elite, but I do believe that we need to expose their lies and deceptions for what they are. On the economic front, their restructuring of the tax system has resulted in an economy operating at 75% of its capacity while the current account and the public sector rack up historic levels of debt. Their attempt to reorient U.S. foreign policy to unilateralism and neo-imperialism must fail for the sake of our children and grandchildren. It is already running afoul of reality in Iraq, but at great cost to our troops and the Iraqi people. Americans need to hear a clear message from responsible political leaders in this country that rejects the Straussian agenda, challenges their lies and deceptions, and offers a return to the democratic and liberal values that we hold so dear. We want a world at peace, not a world at war. We want a government of the people, by the people, and for the people.

“It is an act of wisdom, not weakness, to charitably assume that those who are not against us are with us.”
- John B. Kiesling, Political Counselor, U.S. Embassy, Athens (resigned 2/25/03)

Yours sincerely

Monday, July 14, 2003

Letter to Bush on Iraq and Guantanamo

President George W. Bush
The White House
1600, Pennsylvania Ave.
Washington DC 20501

Monday, July 14th, 2003

Dear Mr. President,

Thank you for your letter regarding the invasion and military occupation of Iraq, or “Operation Iraqi Freedom”. I am writing to you today on two topics: -
a) The ongoing crisis in Iraq
b) The proposed military tribunals at Guantanamo.

Since last September, I have urged you to take the position that the United Nations is the legitimate body to determine the status of any prohibited weapons in Iraq and to oversee any political transition in that country. The results of our attempt to unilaterally resolve these issues have been unsatisfactory, and every day that the military occupation continues prolongs the danger to our troops and the suffering of the Iraqi people. Please end the military occupation and ask the U.N. to supervise a political transition in Iraq.

Your administration’s position on Iraq’s weapons programs was predicated on a number of assumptions, not the least of which was the basic assumption that Iraq still possessed prohibited weapons. Another assumption was that an invasion and military occupation was a more certain way of dealing with such an uncertain threat than the existing U.N. inspection regime. It is now clear to the whole world that these assumptions were wrong. Please support the call for an independent bipartisan commission on the decision-making process that led to the invasion and occupation of Iraq, and please ask the U.N. inspectors to complete their work in conjunction with a U.N.-supervised political transition.

About the proposed “military tribunals” at Guantanamo, Amnesty International has issued a statement that “The Military Order is a fundamentally flawed document and should be revoked. We deeply regret that the President has taken his country one step closer to running trials that will flout basic standards of justice.” Amnesty highlights the following “fundamental flaws”: -
a) The proposed tribunals would accept a lower standard of evidence than is admissible in other courts, including hearsay evidence, and does not exclude statements extracted under coercive conditions.
b) The lack of a right of appeal to an independent impartial court is a violation of international law.
c) The tribunals lack independence from the executive branch of government. The British government has also insisted that such separation is essential to a fair trial.

Although you could certainly improve on the procedures established by the Military Order, the more fundamental problem is that the we are holding these detainees in legal limbo and unilaterally asserting the right to try and even execute them beyond the jurisdiction of any internationally recognized legal authority. Amnesty International calls this a “travesty of justice”, and urges your administration to “rethink its strategy before it causes any further affront to international fair trial norms and any more damage to its own reputation”. Please seek the cooperation of the international community to develop internationally accepted legal principles and procedures that can be applied to these cases.

At Guantanamo as in Iraq, our country has overstepped the bounds of acceptable international behavior. In both cases, we have chosen self-destructive unilateralism over constructive cooperation with the rest of the world. I am very concerned that the consequences of these choices will only get more serious, and I urge you to take a fresh look at both these issues.

Yours sincerely